Daily news summary News Thursday, FEBRUARY 25th, 1999

25-02-1999

Welcome to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines, now the news in more detail, read by Marketa Atanasova.

GOVERNMENT REPORT ABOUT THE STATE OF THE CZECH SOCIETY AND ECONOMY

With only one exception, the Czech government has approved the report on the state of the Czech society and economy, submitted by vice-premier Pavel Mertlik. The one exception concerns the chapter on criminality, which will have to be rewritten within four days. The report says that, judged by the generally accepted economic criteria such as the GDP, the economic performance of the Czech republic is at the level of the year 1990. The report describes the privatisation of industry as unsuccessful, particularly its earlier coupon stage, with companies privatised through this method among the worst affected. While the EU economic standard has gone up by 20 percent since the beginning of 1998, the Czech Republic has seen a 5 percent drop, says the report. Vice-premier Mertlik has blamed the situation on budget restrictions by previous governments, which did nothing to improve the competitiveness of the Czech economy. In Mertlik's view, the government report gives a diagnosis of the state of the Czech society and should be used to justify the government's future policies. However, the former primer minister Vaclav Klaus, chairman of the opposition Civic Democratic party, said that the report doesn't reflect reality but only the views of the Social Democratic Party. Chairman of the Freedom Union Party, Jan Ruml, believes that the sole purpose of the report, which uses words such as burnt out country' to describe the present situation in the Czech Republic, is to serve as an alibi for failures and an incompetent rule of the Social Democratic cabinet. Next week, the government report will be available on the Internet.

CHURCH LEGISLATION TO BE ADOPTED BY THE YEAR 2000.

With two commissions established yesterday to deal with the complicated relationship between the state and the churches in the Czech Republic, the government now expects church legislation to be adopted by the year 2000. Czech Premier Milos Zeman and the Catholic Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, reached a compromise yesterday and agreed on two commissions, instead of the initially proposed one. Church representatives boycotted the original government-proposed commission on political grounds, because of the presence of a communist party member, Dalibor Matulka. Under the new agreement, there will now be two commissions dealing with the state versus churches issue: a government commission, which will include the communists in order to reflect their representation in the Parliament, and an expert commission, with the participation of church representatives. The second commission should be set up next week by the Minister of Culture, Pavel Dostál. Later on, a third commission will be established, which will include both Czech and Vatican representatives and move the relationship between the Czech republic and the catholic church to an international level.

GLOBAL 2000 CRITICISES THE PROPOSAL BY CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER TO HAVE ENVIRONEMENTAL MOVEMENTES MONITORED

The Austrian environmental organisation Global 2000 has criticised the announcement by the Czech foreign minister Jan Kavan, to have civic intelligence services monitor the activities of Czech and Austrian environmental groups opposed to the completion of the Temelin nuclear power station in Southern Bohemia. According to Global 2000, such proposal is absurd and defying democratic principles. The Austrian APA agency quoted the spokesman of Global 2000, Oliver Korschil, as saying that instead of discussing alternative solutions to Temelin, Kavan would like to have all environmentalists labelled as potential terrorists. Global 2000 has demanded that the Czech government distances itself from Kavan's intention and takes seriously Austria's objections against the completion of the Temelin nuclear power plant.

HAVEL TO ATTEND A CONFERENCE ON EUROPE

Czech president Vaclav Havel travels to Berlin today, to attend a conference on the future of Europe, entitled Europe - A Culture of Shared Problems. Havel will give an opening speech to one of the two themes of the conference, which is organised under the auspices of the German president Roman Gerzog and will be attended by about 130 renown European personalities, including the former German chancellor Helmut Kohl, Polish foreign minister Bronislaw Geremek and the former British trade and industry minister, Peter Mandelson. The theme addressed by Havel will be the contribution to Europe's political culture of the liberation of central and eastern European countries from totalitarian oppression. The second theme will be the spiritual development of Europe during the post war decades of freedom and prosperity.

SLOW RESTRUCTURING PROCESS RESPONSIBLE FOR ECONOMIC RECESSION

Czech national bank isn't , according to analysts, responsible for the current economic recession, as is suggested in the Government report, which has blamed the recession on the bank's restrictive policies. Martin Kupka from Reiffesenbank believes that the main reason for the deepening of the economic recession in the country, is the slow pace of the restructuring process. The Czech National Bank's restrictive policies prevent the consequences of the slow restructuring process to be reflected in the growing macro-economic imbalance. However, the report suggests that the bank's policy hasn't been very efficient, pointing out that the 1997 inflation rate was 8.5 percent, while the 1998 rate was 10.7 percent.

AVALANCHE WARNINGS IN CZECH MOUNTAINS

Similar to the rest of Europe, which has been tormented by heavy snow fall and avalanches in mountain areas, Czech mountain and ski resorts, too, had to issue avalanche warnings and many ski resorts in Krkonose mountains in the north had to be closed completely. The recent avalanches in France, Italy, Switzerland and Austria have claimed at least 20 lives, with many people still unaccounted for.

And finally the weather. Today should be bright or partially cloudy, with occasional snow showers. Day temperatures should be at 0 degrees Celsius, night highs from -2 to -6 degrees Celsius.

I'm Marketa Atanasova and that's the end of the news.

25-02-1999